Tales from Lower School
The Calhoun community welcomed guest speaker Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, executive director of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, who led a workshop for Lower School parents on the topic of parenting in the digital age.
Michelle spoke to the challenges that many parents face today: navigating the ever-evolving world of technology with your children, teaching them to use media in a responsible manner, and protecting them from any potential negative side effects. She assured us that it’s completely normal that these challenges can seem overwhelming. “Change has happened rapidly. We’re the last people who can remember life before the internet,” said Michelle. “There’s also a multi-billion-dollar advertising industry that we’re up against, and we’re expected as parents to counter the messages that children are exposed to – no wonder this feels hard!”
So what tools can we use for successful parenting in the digital age? Michelle outlined a model she calls “The Six E’s.”
Be a role model in tech. Kids watch us more than they listen to us, and are learning from what we do. It’s time to ask ourselves, do we have a screen time problem?
Outline expectations, and set guidelines and rules for technology use in the home. Most of all, establish in your home that technology is a big enough deal to talk about often.
Have conversations with your kids about media that have nothing to do with the rules. Does your child love video games? Find out why, and play with them.
Keep in mind that for the first time in history, kids are growing up in a public space thanks to social media – while we were able to make mistakes in private as an adolescent. Be prepared to have open conversations about how hard this can be.
There’s an important difference between preparing and protecting, teaching and telling. Teach kids to ask questions, and learn to have media literacy conversations at home.
Encourage your child’s own media creation, by telling them about new apps or websites, signing them up for classes, and teaching them new skills.
Most of all, Michelle reminded us, “Kids might be better at tech, but we’re better at being human beings. Their tech savvy doesn’t eliminate our life experience – be confident in the wisdom you have to impart.”
Calhoun students celebrated the annual 100th Day Museum to commemorate completing 100 days of school. Each cluster worked together to create projects that reflected their understanding of what the number 100 looks like.
This year’s 100th Day Museum was full of interdisciplinary projects that made connections between math and other fields: from a scientific model of a 100-tentacled jellyfish, to an interpretation of a Kandinsky painting. Community service was also a common theme, with some clusters showing collections of donated books or canned goods for a local food pantry.
All of the projects were put on display in the 74th Street theater, and the entire Little Calhoun community dropped by to enjoy the creations. Bravo to this year’s exhibitors!
Second graders made a scientific model of the 100-tentacled immortal jellyfish. Each of the 100 tentacles had an equation that equaled the number 100. The project reinforced concepts of biology, while helping students practice math skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, cubed numbers and factorials.
Using the painting Squares with Concentric Circles as inspiration, second graders created 100 paper squares layered with colored circles to mimic the color study by Wassily Kandinski in 1913.
100 food items that were collected for the local food pantry West Side Campaign Against Hunger.
A collection of 100 books donated to Project Cicero, a non-profit organization that creates and supplements classroom libraries in under-resourced New York City public schools.
First graders created artistic renditions of favorite Pocket People foods. Each child made 10 of one type of food, which they will later add to their Pocket Person’s home.
One group of second graders made a representation of 100 words that they can read, write and spell.
3’s students counted from one to 10 in 10 different languages. Each language was chosen because of its connection to the languages of the families and teachers in the cluster. Many of these preschoolers are bilingual and have been teaching their classmates how to count in different languages.
First graders drew, cut and painted 100 eagle feathers. After counting by groups of 10’s to make sure they had exactly 100 feathers, they then sorted the feathers by colors and divided them into two groups of 50.
First graders posed with their project of 100 paper flowers.
4’s students created a centipede with 100 legs.
How do you teach inquiry to young children? In our preschool, children started with an everyday, familiar food item – apples.
4's teacher Alicia Klein talks about how an apple study laid the foundation for learning about the process of inquiry.
"As an introduction to inquiry-based classroom projects, we started a small unit on apples to model the process. To start, we gathered together to generate a list of what we know about apples. Sample responses included: 'They have seeds in it;' 'There’s juice in it;' 'It’s a fruit;' 'We can eat it;' 'You can make apple pie, apple cake, or applesauce.' 'It has a stem, which is how it hangs on the tree.'
Next, we read the books That Apple is Mine retold and illustrated by Katya Arnold, and Where is the Apple Pie? by Valeri Gorbache. Then we examined the physical shape of apples. We cut open two apples, one vertically and the other horizontally. While the seeds were visible in both, we were amazed to find a star in the one cut horizontally! We then used these apple halves to create prints with red, yellow and green paint.
We also created our very first observational drawing. Observational drawing is a tool in the process of scientific exploration. This was presented to the children as an opportunity to draw what they see. They were able to choose from four different types of apples: red (Macoun), yellow (Ginger Gold), green (Granny Smith), and multicolor (Envy). The artists studied the apples from all directions and got a good feel for the shape. Then they were given a pencil and asked to draw the outline. After the outline was done, they used colored pencils and crayons to fill in the colors that they observed. This process was done one at a time and the children felt great pride in their work.
The children also organized an apple taste test. The same four varieties of apples were presented and the question was asked: Are all apples the same? Everyone tasted a slice of each of the four apples, sharing comments about how they looked, how they smelled and how they tasted. After tasting all four apples, each child was asked to pick their favorite. We will now generate a graph based on the results. Finally, two students led apple cooking projects: apple juice and applesauce. We used a juicer and took turns pushing apple pieces inside and observing as the juice came pouring out of the spout. Then, the 'chefs' helped cut apples into small pieces to be cooked into applesauce. We sampled it along with apple butter on a baguette for a special snack. It was a huge hit, with many children asking for refills.
As we continue to practice inquiry-based learning, our goal is to trigger students' curiosity and empower them to lead their learning. Today, we met and asked each other what else we want to know. Children continued to form questions such as, 'I want to learn how to make apple pie,' or 'How do apples grow on trees?' In the end, the inquiry process left them hungry to learn more!"
by Priscilla Marrero, Lower School Spanish teacher
In an effort to respond to hurricane victims, the Lower School community rallied together in an amazing showing of support for the children of Puerto Rico. Over the course of a week, we collected donations of books, pens, crayons, new pajamas and stuffed animals for the Bel Esprit Cultural Institute’s Rise and Read project, which unites with teachers on the ground to restore a sense of normalcy for children while the adults focus on rebuilding.
It was a wonderful, magical week full of so much community support at Little Calhoun: from coordinating ideas and talking with the children about the hurricanes in Puerto Rico to creating bookmarks and sorting the boxes full of donations. It was a real communal effort, and it was incredible to witness and be a part of it all!
Our bookmarks made by 3's –2nd graders, teachers and staff
We had a special donation from our local Stationary and Toy World on 72nd Street. Donna, the owner, gave us pens, crayons, and boxes of composition books – she even sent over her staff to deliver in person!
Some of our students were so eager to participate that they joined me in the theater to help sort and receive collections. Thank you Daisy and Javier!
Emerson was so eager to support that he told his mom that he wanted to make 100 more bookmarks for the children in Puerto Rico! He really enjoyed learning about the process of creating for others.
Thanks to Avy (Calhoun parent) and Elyna (Calhoun kindergarten student), the donations are headed to Brooklyn to meet Kafayat Alli-Balogun, founder of the Bel Esprit Cultural Institute, and go to Puerto Rico!
Thank you to everyone for their kindness and generosity in contributing to this project! What an awesome week!
Counting, Collaborating and Creating:
The 4's Recipe for the 100 Day Museum Project
By Danita Harrison and Elissa Kompanek, 4's Head Teachers
Every year the students in Little Calhoun put together a museum marking the 100th day of school by contributing a myriad of projects, items and activities that reflect the number 100. This year, on March 2, children and teachers from every cluster were invited to visit this year’s exhibit. Parents were invited to stop by during drop-off, as well.
Here’s a peek at the process for our 4's clusters:
Leading up to the 100 Day Museum
There was so much buzz around the room about the upcoming 100th day of school! One 4’s cluster was marking off the days on a chart in the meeting area, and periodically walked up to the kindergarten classroom to double-check that we were “on schedule.” When we realized we were at ninety days, we began discussing how we could help put together some projects to contribute to the 100th Day Museum.
We began to brainstorm ideas with the children to elicit ideas for the exhibit. Many good ideas floated around, like collaging 100 pieces of recycled cardboard, building with 100 Magna-Tiles, painting a box and gluing or placing 100 things inside, or donating 100 books.
The children were very excited as they worked alongside each other, painting a box to help fulfill the idea of one of their beloved friends. The project also inspired them to start counting whatever they could find in the classroom.
Although we had under fifty seats in the room (we counted the couch and stools as seats), the children enjoyed the group activity.
In meetings and around the room we continued to explore counting to 100—counting our cubbies, snap cubes and goldfish crackers! (That last one didn’t work out well, since the children would eat them as fast as they counted them and quickly forget what number they were at!)
One of the children thought there might be 100 chairs in the room; this led to a room-wide count-a-thon. We used numbered Post-Its on every seat (chairs, stools and the couch), lined them up in numerical order and counted. (There weren't 100 chairs, but the children had fun doing it!)
We then decorated all 100-numbered Post-Its and put them in groups of 3 to 5 each. These were attached to a long piece of recycled cardboard, with 20 in each of five rows. This was significant; through these cooperative explorations, the children were building a sense of number in a multi-sensory manner while they are counting, using one-to-one correspondence. Having the Post-Its in five rows also enabled them to notice patterns.This project so fascinated them that the Post-It construct is now a fixture in the room; the children continue to go over to it individually or in small groups.
In cluster meeting, we continued to explore the idea of counting in groups of tens as a way to count big groups of numbers faster. One child got so excited, he attempted to write numbers 1 through 50 by using the chart on the wall as a guide. For an art project, we put our hands to good use-- painting and tracing them for a mural of 100 hands to donate to the museum.
On the day of the museum, the children loved seeing their collaborative contributions to the museum as well as those of the other clusters, and many were seen practicing their counting skills as they circled around the room.
Choose groups to clone to: